I am pretty much sure that it is not just me who thought that one week is quite long enough to see the Green Archers back in action and get back on their winning ways after that stunning defeat at the hands of the Fighting Maroons last September 23.
I am very much sure that the boys in green are aching to get back on the court and show what they are made of on their upcoming match-up against the still winless but dangerous UST Growling Tigers. I will start right away that if La Salle wants to win this match, the number one category that the Green Archers should focus on, is defense.
The Green Archers are at the bottom of the league rankings now on points allowed, allowing their opponents to score 92.5 points per game. As the cliché goes, defense wins championships and I do not think that the Green Archers will have a title repeat this season if they do not improve on those numbers.
The Green Archers are dead last among eight schools on allowed points in the paint per game as they let their opponents score 46.5 points in the paint after four games. Surprisingly, after that Paul Desiderio explosion last time out, La Salle is still the number two team in the league on allowed perimeter points per game with 21.
If we will observe the pattern on those four games that the Green Archers had played, the green and white squad always has a good, strong start and tends to relax towards the end of the game. The NU game can be an exception because the Bulldogs literally played on the same pace as with the Green Archers and battled La Salle on a track meet. Unlike FEU, Adamson, and UP who tend to play defensively on the half court.
The evidence of this tendency to relax shows on the fast break points per game and 2nd chance points per game allowed by La Salle after four games played. The Green Archers are allowing 17.8 fast break points per game and 16 2nd chance points per game to their opponents.
Now, how do these stats relay to UST? UST is averaging 12 second chance points per game and 15 fast break points per game. UST is also averaging 40.4 points per game inside the paint. Their leading scorer, Jordan Sta. Ana loves to take it strong inside the paint and with two bigs that can finish in the mold of Jeepy Faundo and Steve Akomo, UST is expected to make their production inside the paint on Saturday’s game.
The weak spot though of the yellow and gold squad is their perimeter game. Only Marvin Lee is a threat from deep. Carlos Escalambre may hit here and there but his consistency from the trifecta region has yet to be seen. One thing that can be noted for UST as well is their lack of a true facilitator and ball handler on offense.
UST’s primary ball handlers are turnover-prone. Marvin Lee’s averaging 5.2 turnovers per game. Jordan Sta. Ana is averaging 2.8 turnovers per game. Jordan Sta. Ana is UST’s primary creator on offense, averaging 4.6 assists per game so if these two gentlemen can be contained, half the job is already done for the Green Archers on Saturday.
La Salle’s big can’t also sleep on UST as UST is the number one team in the league when it comes to rebounding. UST is averaging 49.6 rebounds per game and this shows the effort of Faundo and Akomo when they are inside the court playing.
The Green Archers can’t also play relaxed as UST is equal with La Salle, averaging 5.8 steals per contest. The difference though is that UST cannot capitalize on those steals as they only average 12.8 turnover points per game compared to the Green Archers’ 19.3 turnover points per game output.
Personally, I would also like to see Aljun and Ricci break their offensive slump. Their offensive production is necessary if La Salle wants to go for a back to back championship this season. Both guys cannot be inconsistent on their offensive production as evident last Saturday against UP. Both Aljun and Ricci’s scoring could have off set Desiderio’s offensive burst but unfortunately, that was not the case.
With this, I will go back again to the primary statistic that the Green Archers should focus this season which is defense. On days and nights that you cannot shoot the basketball, defense will always be there and can be counted upon as a source of scoring output. Saturday is an important game for the Green Archers to see how they will react after that loss to UP. In short, Saturday is a character game for our beloved green and white squad.
Bottom line, UST is winless but you cannot relax playing against these guys. The Growling Tigers are such a proud team not to play hard against La Salle on Saturday. As for the supporters, do not expect that this is the same Growling Tigers team that the Green Archers walloped hugely on two regular-season games last season.
I expect to see improvements on both ends for the Green Archers this coming Saturday and I am hoping that the boys will get back on their winning groove. We all know that this is not the best Green Archers that we have seen and we all know how the team can perform and show if everyone is on their best shape and mental focus.